What you need to know about Ramadan and football
Do you coach Muslim players? Get to know what’s involved in the Islamic month of Ramadan, so that you can make the right accommodations at this time.
The ninth month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is known as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Lasting 29 or 30 days, there’s no specific date for Ramadan, as it’s determined by the moon. It tends to happen 11 days earlier each year.
During Ramadan, adult Muslims and those who have reached puberty must not eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. This is known as fasting. All eating is done after sundown or before sunrise, so people tend to get less sleep. There are extra prayers too.
Fasting isn’t required from those who are unwell, travelling or pregnant. Anyone who can’t fast might need to make it up later or donate money to the poor instead.
So, how does Ramadan work with football training? Here are the five key things you need to know...
1. The football rules that apply
The FA rules make it clear that all faiths are observed and respected. Here’s what they say in full:
FA rule B5 football & religious observance
a. A Participant cannot be compelled to play football on bona fide occasions where religious observance precludes such activity, save where the Participant:
(i) has consented to do so on such occasions; or
(ii) is registered as a player under written contract, which shall be taken as consent to play on such occasions unless otherwise provided for in the contract.
b. Annually, when planning programmes, Competitions shall define and notify agreed dates of such occasions.
What does that mean for you? Essentially, unless they’re professionals, players are free to miss football training or matches if they conflict with the requirements of Ramadan.
2. Who will be observing Ramadan?
There's no set age when Muslims start fasting, but it’s generally from puberty, which can happen any time between 8 and 16 years old.
During Ramadan, then, many Muslim players in youth football will be affected. Especially in the older age groups. If you have any Muslims on your team, ask them about their plans to fast and play.
3. Fasting and football
Fasting, combined with extra prayers and a lack of sleep, can leave people feeling more tired and dehydrated. Some Muslims might find it harder to play football during Ramadan and won’t want to take part.
Muslims who are fasting don’t expect you to stop eating or drinking, though it’s polite to avoid doing so in front of them.
However, when they break their fast in the evening (known as Iftar), it's common to sit together and share food. Non-Muslims may be welcome to join too. Fasting with Muslim friends, even for part of the day, is a great way to understand Ramadan better.
4. Praying and football
Muslims might practice their faith more during Ramadan and may want to offer prayers during the day. This will usually be two to three times a day for a few minutes at a time. They'll need a small private area for this.
Muslims may also attend extra prayers (known as Tarawih) at night.
5. Guidance around fixtures
Always take note of any important religious dates when planning fixtures.
Ideally, if a team has a few Muslim players, it's best to avoid arranging football fixtures during Ramadan.